Gains for women and Girls; a Journey well Covered
Women’s struggle for equality has been a long battle that still continues into the present day. All over the world, there is a natural order that places women in a different bubble from men. This of course disadvantages the woman, who ideally is supposed to be submissive to the man, be obedient and in some cases the woman is not allowed to make decisions that affect her livelihood.
This has seen women move out of their comfort zone and struggle for their rights and thus make an impression on the world. Deliberate efforts to see a woman progress in all spheres of life have been made and on 8th March 2015, Uganda joins the rest of the world to take stock of her progress in women empowerment. It has taken such a long time for the male dominated society to realise that men and women are the same and that women have minds capable of serious undertakings.
The 2015 Global Theme for Women’s day celebration is ‘Equality for women is progress for all’. The one selected for National celebrations is ‘Empowerment of women and girls is progress for all: Three decades of Gains for Ugandan women and girls. This is meant to demonstrate that empowerment of a woman benefits everyone in society. The question is how you facilitate a woman in your life to realise their potential begins with your attitude.
Educating and training girls in your care is important in empowering them because it gives them a voice in their communities and gives them lifelong skills. This will in turn impact their own children and the cycle continues and thus builds a nation.
In Uganda, empowerment of women is greatly protected within the laws and policies of Uganda. Uganda has also ratified key frameworks for empowerment, for example the Constitution, Uganda Vision 2040, Uganda Gender Policy and many others. This has provided women in Uganda an opportunity to progress in all aspects of life.
The effort by the Government has seen an increase of women in governance due to affirmative action. According to Statistics from Ministry of Gender, Labour and Social Development, women in Parliament have increased from 3 percent in the 4th Parliament to 34 percent in the 9th Parliament. The number of women in cabinet is at 23 percent.
A number of women today have also dared into areas that were earlier a preserve for men. Women are participating in the armed forces like police, army, prisons and other security agencies and have also attained higher levels in the forces.
The introduction of UPE and USE has also led to the attainment of gender parity. Before, boys took the priority over the girls but today parents have no reason not to send their girl child to school. The ministry of education and sports has recently issued a circular to all schools to create an enabling environment for menstrual hygiene in school. By this it means that a girl child while at school should have access to a private room where they can clean up, have matrons that can teach them what to expect and what to do during their menstrual cycle. This is to avoid absenteeism and geared towards keeping the girl in school.
Privatisation of the education sector has increased the number of universities in the country both private and public giving girls more choice to enrol. I however do not support the introduction of the 1.5 points for female students for under graduate admission because i believe that as women, we are as capable as our male counterparts.
Government continues to emphasize reproductive health through policies like the National Health Policy 2009 and the National population policy all that tackle areas that affect women health. There are health centres up to the sub-county level for women to access health services in health centres 11,111,1V. This has reduced the risk of women dying of preventable diseases, prevention of mother to child HIV/Aids, cancers and many more.
Loan schemes have also been established by government together with the private sector for women to access credit and contribute to Uganda’s economy. Through the enactment of the Land Act (Cap 227) and Land Acquisition Act (Cap 226), women’s access to and control of land has also improved because it guarantees their occupancy rights.
Commendable progress has been realised over the years but the struggle continues especially in areas of women’s accessibility to markets for their products, access to financial services with friendly interest, equal treatment at workplaces in areas of promotion and retention and more focus on maternal health.
We are also still grappling with domestic violence which seems to be on the rise and women are the biggest victims with some losing their life. The media has become a source of depression because every time you watch or read a Newspaper, there is a woman hacked by their spouse, acid victim and in worst case scenarios, death.
How I wish the civil society dotting Kampala would drench deeper in villages with projects that encourages young girls to keep in school, avoid early marriages, and value their life. It’s a joint struggle and everyone must play their part.
Let’s celebrate the achievement come 8 March in Kabale and gunner momentum for the challenge ahead.
The writer works with Uganda Media Centre